160 Domestic elk escaped the Chief Joseph elk reserve in eastern Idaho in mid-August. The owner of the reserve, Rex Rammell, says he didn’t report the elk had escaped because he didn’t know that they had.
Fear of the spread of disease and the dumbing down of elk genes, the state Fish and Game Department prompted the Governor to authorize his wildlife agents to shoot to kill. Originally the Governor ordered licensed hunters as well as agents to take to the woods on a seek and destroy mission. The Governor called off the licensed hunters in a wait-n-see strategy to assess the situation by the conclusion of the weekend’s efforts by fish and game.
During the first day of the hunt, agents used a helicopter with a trained spotter, a fixed-wing aircraft and 25 wildlife agents and they were unsuccessful in locating 160 elk.
In the meantime, the owner has been graining his animals and has been successful in re-penning at least a dozen and perhaps as many as 20. The owner says that he could have recovered many more but the noise from helicopters, planes and hunters are driving the animals deeper into the thick woods.
Rammell and others have said the fear tactics being used by the state are overblown and unfounded. There has never been a reported case of chronic wasting disease, tuberculosis or brucellosis in Idaho. He says his elk are disease free. Rammell also claims that his elk are as pure genetically as wild elk if not more so and as pure as the Yellowstone herd because that’s where his elk came from.
The Idaho Elk Breeders Association is saying they strongly support the Governor’s decision to seek out and kill the escaped elk. They also point out that Rammell is not a member of their organization. Even though the group supports the Governor’s move they also say that the fears are overblown.
”The animals in question or their ancestry were tested for genetic purity by a qualified laboratory and declared pure elk,” said Gary Queen, the group’s president. ”There has never been a reported case of brucellosis, tuberculosis or chronic wasting disease in the entire state.”
Bob Minter, Vice President of the Idaho Sportmen’s Caucus Advisory Council, said that this was an accident just waiting to happen and fears for the dumbing down of the gene pool.
“We are concerned to protect our wild stock in this state,” Minter said. “And many states have banned game farms. And the sportsmen of the state are probably going to be working towards that.”
But another elk rancher says one bad apple shouldn’t spoil the whole bunch.
“You’re always going to have one in the bunch who might not, I don’t think you can, have an accurate reflection on the whole industry by one individual’s actions,” Kristy Hein, co-owner of the Black Canyon Elk Ranch, told CBS 2 News. “So I think a lot of us are very responsible, we’ve got a very strong support in Idaho, and we follow the rules and regulations.”
In the meantime Rex Rammell, whose elk made the great escape, says he is considering filing a lawsuit against the state of Idaho for their actions. Rammell says he puts no blame on bow hunters who might mistakenly shoot one of his elk but for the state to have taken the action they have is unnecessary.
I would suppose that if one believes there is always good in everything, they could surmise that for those animal rights groups who argue that killing “penned” animals is a merciless slaughter, then why couldn’t 25 trained hunters using two aircraft even locate 160 elk? I guess we all have bad days hunting.
*All posts on the topic:
More Elk Killed In Idaho – Some By Hunters
Idaho Elk Farmer Plans To Sue The State
Scientists Will Test Killed Idaho Elk For Disease And Genetic Make-up
A Helicopter, A Plane And 25 Agents Canâ€™t Find 160 Domestic Elk
Escaped Idaho Elk Being Slaughtered. Wyoming Ordered To Kill Elk Also